What is DoxyPEP?
DoxyPEP is a post-exposure preventative treatment for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Think of it as a morning-after pill but for bacterial STIs instead of pregnancy: take one dose after a condomless sexual encounter to greatly reduce your risk of contracting bacterial STIs.
DoxyPEP does NOT help prevent:
- Mpox (monkeypox)
- Other viral infections
Who should consider DoxyPEP?
You should consider DoxyPEP if you were assigned male at birth, are at least 12 years old, and:
- Have been diagnosed with at least one bacterial STI (i.e., chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis) in the last 12 months
- Have had condomless oral and/or anal sexual contact with at least one individual assigned male at birth in the last 12 months
Although current research has shown that DoxyPEP is only effective for people meeting these criteria, we know that people who haven’t had a recent STI or were assigned female at birth may still be interested in adding DoxyPEP to their STI prevention toolkit. We encourage anyone who believes they may benefit from DoxyPEP to discuss the risks and benefits with their Howard Brown provider to see if it may be an option for them.
How can I get DoxyPEP?
- Make sure you’re eligible to take DoxyPEP (see “Who should consider DoxyPEP?” above)
- Schedule a routine primary care visit at a Howard Brown Health location
- Tell your scheduler or indicate in your online submission that you’re interested in starting DoxyPEP
- Attend your appointment: the provider will do STI testing and basic bloodwork to confirm your eligibility
- Once your test results come back and your eligibility is confirmed, we will provide you with a doxycycline prescription
- Pick up your prescription at a Howard Brown pharmacy (or your local pharmacy)
- Keep the bottle in your medicine cabinet or on your nightstand until you need it!
How do I take DoxyPEP?
Just remember that it’s 3, 2, 1!
In other words:
- Within 3 days, or 72 hours, of a condomless sexual encounter
- Take 2 tablets, or 200 mg, of Doxycycline
- Just 1 time, or no more than one dose per day
When taking DoxyPEP, you should also keep in mind that:
- It will be most effective if you take it within the first 24 hours, so treat it like a morning-after medication
- Although it is safe to take daily, do not take more than 200mg in one day
- Take it with 8 oz of water and food, if possible, to help decrease any potential side effects like nausea or headaches
- Some people are more sensitive to the sun when they take it, so be sure to wear sunscreen and/or stay covered when spending extended time outdoors
What else should I know before starting DoxyPEP?
- It is safe to take PrEP for HIV and DoxyPEP at the same time.
- DoxyPEP treatment is not 100% protective, but recent studies have shown that it can decrease your likelihood of contracting syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea by about 60%.
- Since this treatment method is relatively new, we are still learning about the effects of DoxyPEP on the ‘good’ bacteria of the gut, the bacteria that live on our skin (for example, staph), and possible resistance to STIs such as gonorrhea.
- Doxycycline is not a new medication, but this use of it is. Doxycycline has long been used as a common antibiotic due to its safety, mild potential side effects, and low cost.
- Chlamydia and syphilis have shown no resistance to doxycycline, despite it having been used as a common antibiotic for decades.
What should I know for after I start DoxyPEP?
- Patients taking DoxyPEP will need to follow-up with their primary-care provider every three months for routine STI testing, standard bloodwork, and refills on the DoxyPEP prescription.
- If you are having symptoms of an STI while taking DoxyPEP or have a known exposure to an STI, please come in to get tested and treated – otherwise, continue your routine testing every three months.
- We may reach out to you via MyChart at some point in the months after your start DoxyPEP to ask about your experience with it. This helps us to learn more about the patient experience with it so we can make any needed adjustments or improvements to how we offer DoxyPEP.